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  • The Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem
    The meaning of the Way of the Cross

    The Way of the Cross is not a work of erudition. It is essentially a devotional exercise, a means which men and women can use to make contact with God, to adore Him, to thank Him, to increase their love for Him. Devotion to the sufferings of Christ, is particularly recommended for all who wish to live "upon the model of that charity which Christ showed to us when he gave himself up on our behalf" (Eph 6,2).

    Because the Passion was accomplished in a specific place, it is obviously important to know its geographical and physical layout. This includes the many changes the Holy Land has undergone since Gospel times, together with the buildings and churches that have risen over the actual spots, all of which could add to the confusion experienced by certain pilgrims.

    The road followed by Jesus on the day of his death has not escaped the vicissitudes of history; so we will not yield to the temptation of making stones the supreme arbiter in this matter. After all, it is by following the Way of the Cross that pilgrims have understood what the carrying of the cross was really like, through streets resembling those where crowds of people, often impassible, sometimes curious, still gather in front of the shops. (While the closing of the Moslem shops may be a help to piety, it has taken from the Friday procession the teeming crowds which were customary before 1967).

    Finally, what really matters is to follow Christ on the Way of the Cross of his Passion, as humble companions.

    The Stations

    "Via Dolorosa" or "Via Crucis" designates a stretch of road between the Antonia fortress and Golgotha, along which Jesus Christ walked bowed under the weight of the Cross. The name dates from the sixteenth century, although the custom of retracing Jesus' steps to Golgotha began in the early centuries of Christianity. According to the most common tradition the Antonia fortress and the Praetorium nearby were the sites where Jesus was brought before Pilate. The fortress, which stood near the north-west corner of the Jewish Temple, was the starting point for Jesus' painful walk toward Calvary, which at that time was outside the city walls.

    The Stations X through XIV are located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

    Every Friday afternoon, the Franciscans, who have been the Custodians of the Holy Places since the thirteenth century, lead a pious procession winding through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem folowing in the footsteps of the suffering Christ.

    Sites of events preceeding the "First Way of the Cross"

    The Last Supper

    The Garden of Gethsemane - Mount of Olives - Part I

    The Garden of Gethsemane - Mount of Olives - Part II

    The Holy Prison

    Preliminary Stations and reflections

    Map of Via Dolorosa (Via Crucis) --- small image (19KB) --- large image (172KB)

    Background - the mood of a city

    The First Preliminary Station - Jesus goes down to Gethsemane

    The Second Preliminary Station - Jesus is led to Caiaphas

    The Third Preliminary Station - Jesus in front of Pilate

    The Stations and reflections

    The First Station - HERE Jesus is sentenced to death

    The Second Station - HERE Jesus is given the Cross

    The Third Station - HERE Jesus falls for the first time

    The Fourth Station - HERE Jesus meets His Mother

    The Fifth Station - HERE Simon the Cyrenian helps carry the Cross
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